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OK, I’ve got to admit that I don’t understand the rationality behind some online book promotions these days.

Here’s the thing. Authors have figured out how to manipulate Amazon’s rankings and get their new books pushed to the top of the list for a day or two. It’s fairly easy as long as you have enough friends to help.

Here’s how it works:

Let’s say I have a new book coming out in a couple of weeks. I know the launch date is July 15 and I would really like for it to hit high on the Amazon rankings right away. If I can get my book ranked in the Top 10 Business Books (or even #1!), for example, this does two things for me. First, it might sell a few extra books simply through the visibility of being ranked so high. (Don’t get all hyped up, though, it’s might sell a few hundred extra books, but nothing truly significant.) Second, and more important, I can now say in my bio and speech introductions that "Steve’s latest book was ranked #1 on the Amazon bestseller list!" A true ego builder.

So how do I get my book to #1? First, I contact all my other author/speaker friends and ask if they’ll give me some e-product of theirs that I can give away. So my buddy, Joe Shmoe, gives a 10-page white paper he’s had parked in his computer for a couple of years. Joe says it’s worth $197 (if someone were to actually pay for it, which no one ever has). Other friends pitch in white papers, audio programs, maybe even a teleseminar or two. All of these "products" are used by them as promotional, list building vehicles anyway, and all have been given retail "values" of anywhere from $47 to $497.

I now put together a quick web site with a simple landing page. The landing page explains a little about my new book and how it’s going to change your life for only $20, BUT if you buy it today, you can get an additional bonus package of all these cool products from all my other very successful and smart friends, and that package is valued at over $4000!

You read that right. For only a $20, you’ll instantly get back 200 times your investment!

I promote this to my list. My friends promote it to their lists. And I sell a couple hundred books today, which is more tha enough to pop my book to the top of the Amazon list. Voila, a bestseller!

(Well, actually, there is a slight catch to getting all the bonuses. Every one of those people will ask for your email before sending you their gift.)

Now, in full disclosure, I helped one friend do something similar a couple of years ago. Back then, though, his bonuses totaled up to maybe a couple hundred bucks. And I must admit, even with that I was a little uncomfortable that the bonus offer was too good to be true.

Here’s my gripe today. $20 for $4000? Are we actually supposed to believe this? And what does this say about the actual value of the book? Look I’m fine with doing a bonus offer, but let’s keep the hype a little more under control.

The fact is, I would probably buy the book anyway, even without the bonuses. The book sounds good. And if a friend recommended it, I would buy it without the bonuses. That’s WOM.